Maybe once or twice a year I have the opportunity to go to an Orlando Magic game, and every time, including last night, I find myself wondering the same thing…is it really about the game? Is the game really enough? What I mean is there is so much peripheral stuff they do at every break to keep us all entertained. I mean the amount of programming strategy and hype is almost overwhelming. Are we that bored with the game that we need all these other distractions? Do the front office folks of the Magic worry the game isn’t enough to hold our interests so they need to send a giant cow floating on a bottle of milk throughout the arena?
It just all makes me wonder.
But maybe an even more important question is how guilty are we of this in the church? Are we confident in the message we have to proclaim, the gospel? Do we trust that it is enough or do we feel compelled to try and entertain with all sorts of periphery? And what about at Christmas time, where we are supposed to focus on the gift of Jesus, how much of our time is focused on the external hype?
It’s my hope that we will actually experience the person who is at the center of everything and truly know that He is enough…both in this Christmas season and throughout every day we are given on this planet.
In God’s timing, I got to teach on the topic of busyness this morning out of Luke 10:38-42. I just find it comical that the person that so often needs to hear the message is me. It’s an interesting place to be, sharing a message with conviction, yet also knowing all the ways I fall short. I am thankful that God doesn’t allow me to simply prepare a message for somebody else, but forces me to deal with the text as well. I think that’s how it’s supposed to be. One particular quote that I shared this morning I found particularly insightful. The quote is from David Brooks in his book On Paradise Drive, which I can’t recommend enough. Not because it gives great solutions, but because it exposes much of the idols of suburban America. Here’s what he says regarding busyness and what drives us oftentimes…
In the land of abundance, people work feverishly hard, and cram their lives insanely full, because the candies are all around, looking up and pleading, “Taste me, taste me, taste me.” People in such a realm live in a perpetual aspirational trance. They are bombarded from first waking till night-time’s last thought by advertisements, images, messages, novelties, improvements, and tales of wonder. It takes a force of willpower beyond that of most ordinary people to renounce all this glorious possibility. It’s easier to work phenomenally long hours and grasp at all the candies than it is to say no. It takes incredible dedication to renounce opportunity, get off the conveyor, and be content with what one is.
– David Brooks, On Paradise Drive
Here’s the thing…one can not possibly be “content with what one is” until our identity is found in what Jesus has done for us. Only then am I able to “get off the conveyor” and do the hard work of saying no.
Here’s hoping you find some true rest this Christmas season. Peace.
If you’re looking for some Christmas music that isn’t just another remake of traditional songs, you should really check out Andrew Peterson’s Behold The Lamb of God. Each song builds upon the previous one, telling the story of God from the Israelite captivity up until the birth of Christ. Not only is it great songwriting, it will also teach/remind you of the grand narrative of the Scriptures. I have seen the live show twice, and though live is always great, the recording is fantastic as well. This link from Amazon will actually get you the original recording plus live versions of the songs. You can also get it at iTunes here.
For sometime now I’ve wanted to come together as a church for an opportunity to simply draw near to God in worship and prayer. To be able to immerse ourselves in a worship experience that is not rushed for time or other distractions. It’s not that Sunday morning isn’t sufficient, it’s just that I find myself wanting more. To be able to incorporate some different aspects of worship that we are less likely to be able to do on a Sunday morning in a YMCA gym. Last night was that night. We gathered at the University Club in Winter Park. The agenda was the words of James 4:8 – Draw near to God and he will draw near to you. I don’t know why I’m surprised that God follows through on his promises. He most certainly drew near to us last night. Sure it was nice to be in a room with better acoustics and lighting, but was that the reason things went well? I genuinely believe God answered our prayers for his Spirit to be poured out amidst us. To encounter God experientially. To not simply cognitively know about God, but to actually experience His presence. I for one am thankful that we serve a relational God who loves to be near his people.
I love that we got a chance at the end of the night to break into smaller groups and pray that more and more people would become worshippers of Jesus. To pray for people by name. To pray that they too would encounter Jesus. To make sure a night like last night isn’t just about us, but it’s also about God using us for His redemptive purposes.
I am looking forward to more night like this.
– huge thanks to all of our worship team members and those that helped with graphics, lights, sound board, set up, etc., etc. There is nothing logistically easy about a night like last night and I’m extremely thankful that so many are using their gifts for God’s glory. I hope they experienced great joy in serving.
And never forget, as you make your way along the path to the summit, that calling is from a Person. It isn’t essentially about doing. It is at heart about knowing—about knowing the magnificent and kind Person in whom “we live and move and have our being.” He is full of surprises; there is no way we can predict with certainty what course our lives will take. But he is also full of wisdom and love. The One who orders our days and knows our names gave his life for us. He saw his whole “career” crash in ruins—he lost his friends, his clout, his clothes, and, above all, his Father—in order to open his home and himself safely to us. And so, no matter what unfolds, we have nothing to fear, and we have a future of joy-filled discovery that defies imagination.